HD Study in Reality no. 3
Martha Atienza’s works are direct reactions toward her environment, particularly in Bantayan Island, a fishing community situated in the northwestern end of Cebu. She has established close ties with the community who are mainly fisher folks whom she had interacted and collaborated with in order to embark on a project called “Para Sa Aton” or “For Us,” a cooperative platform that seeks to address the vulnerability of the island’s resources through self-sustainable programs, venturing into projects such as reef preservation and aquaponics to alleviate the living condition of the locals.The questions of the real and the ideal have surfaced from these projects, sparked by the island’s vulnerability against uncontrollable forces—like typhoons and the land’s topography. The low-lying group of isles has proved to be a difficult terrain for agriculture as it was experimented upon during the first stages of Para Sa Aton. It was one of the first incidents where Atienza has begun to acknowledge the discord reality has caused against the ideal. In trying to inspire a utopian-like community, Atienza became aware of the discrepancies between the people’s audacity to succeed and the reality of their own situation. The incident of typhoon Haiyan on the island became a culminating illustration as to how reality can strike back, and has left a lingering image to the artist who stood as its witness.Martha Atienza’s Study in Reality is an incisive portrayal of how experience can be constituted as image, and how image can re-inhabit the jurisdiction of the real. It is a cycle that has formed its path—from actuality, to imagination, and then back to its concreteness—by pondering on the question ‘what is real´ in art? The path for Martha Atienza has been laid out via her first inquiry, as reflected in her previous works: Can art tackle real, social, economic, and environmental issues? The ambivalent results from her constant attempts in trying to assist a community in Bantayan Island have prompted her to cast out another question: How Reality (social, economic, the environment) as a mode of art is broken down further into opposing concepts—the ideal construction versus the actual condition?